Character and integrity are closely related to each other, and the most remarkable thing about them is that no one can take it from you. Your choice is yours alone. Even if someone else takes your life and even takes your life, he will not be able to force you to make a decision that you believe is wrong. The actions described in this guide cannot and should not be performed all at once. On the other hand, each one takes time before you can understand and apply it to your life. Get to know the qualities of yourself and the principles of your life, as well as their relationship to life and the environment around you.
Part 1 of 2: Understanding Character
Step 1. Understand what character and integrity are
The definitions of these two words are often too broad or misunderstood. Learn what it really means:
- In this guide, what is meant by character is a combination of the qualities of a person or group of people, moral or ethical strengths, and a description of that person's characteristics, strengths, and abilities. Character is who you are. Character defines you and determines your actions, which ideally go in a positive direction.
- Integrity is a firm inclination to a set of moral rules or a code of ethics, without being shaken and remaining firm, intact, and not double-minded.
- Integrity can be summed up simply as doing the right thing for the right reasons even without anyone seeing or knowing.
Step 2. Learn the differences between different codes of conduct
Some people adhere to a code of ethics derived from a particular religion as their own moral principles, others choose a certain moral philosophy, and others develop their own ethical principles based on personal experience.
- There are two types of ethical codes and moral principles, namely utilitarianism (or the principle of consequence) and deontology. Utilitarianism refers to the idea of maximizing the maximum benefit/use (utility).
- For example, utilitarians will think that property destruction is not wrong if the action is to help chimpanzees who are victims of unethical experiments.
- On the other hand, deontology holds that some things are wrong, regardless of the consequences. Adherents of this understanding will consider the destruction of property wrong, regardless of the purpose.
- You don't have to stick to one idea from just one source. As your understanding of what is right and wrong grows for you, just adjust yourself to this principle of right and wrong.
Step 3. Look back at your past
Observe the decisions you have made before, and notice how you have adhered to or abandoned these principles.
However, don't waste time on feelings of guilt or regret. Rethink your mistakes, admit each one, and do your best to change in the future
Step 4. Learn from the examples of others
You don't have to start from scratch if you want to build a life of integrity. Just look at the people who have practiced living with integrity before you, both those you know personally and who are historical figures. Perhaps, you will find that the example of others is a motivation for you to live with integrity as well.
- If there is a moral role model you know in your life, meet him or her for a chat. Ask him how to live your own life. In addition, also ask specifically how to maintain a good life attitude. What is the answer about feeling withdrawn, giving up and sacrificing principles, and compromising on values and putting the opinions of others above facts?
- Don't imitate other people. Remember, you are a unique person with a unique life, and you do not need to follow suit or imitate other people's personalities or characters. Instead, learn from the character of others while applying the parts that best suit your own.
Step 5. Be persistent but be patient with yourself and others
You have embarked on the journey of a lifetime that will be accompanied by many obstacles. Praise yourself when you succeed in practicing integrity, and admit it when you fail. However, never give up trying to achieve your goals just because you failed or made a mistake. Just as you sometimes forgive other people's mistakes, don't forget to forgive yourself too.
Step 6. Define your own code of conduct
Choose a set of rules, moral values, or principles that you believe will lead to a happier, more fulfilling, and righteous life, while making a positive impact on the world around you.
- Be willing to change or adapt your code of conduct as your life experience evolves. It is okay to readjust understandings of right and wrong or mindsets about moral values. Most people also change their mindset about right and wrong as they develop themselves.
- The code of conduct you adhere to depends on your personal values or life principles.
Step 7. Determine your values in life
To find a code of ethics that you want to follow, it's best to think about what life values are particularly important to you. You can also use outside help when trying to determine your values in life, by asking yourself a few questions:
- Think of the two people you admire the most. What things do you admire about them? Will his always honest attitude even though it sometimes make him look bad? Or is it his generosity that makes that person always ready to share his time with others? What things do they do that you think are particularly inspiring?
- If you could change one thing about the people around you or your country, what would you change? Why is it important to change, and more important than anything else that you don't choose to change? For example, will you restore the quality of justice in certain areas of your society's life? Do you want people to appreciate the country more?
- Think of a time in your life when you felt very satisfied or completely happy. What happened then? Why do you think you feel that way?
- What global issue excites you the most or makes you the most angry/sad? Why do you think these issues affect you so? Does the issue of space exploration excite you? If so, maybe you have values that prioritize improving the quality of humanity through science. Is reading the news about hunger the thing that makes you the most angry and sad? If so, maybe you have the value of caring and empathy for others.
Step 8. Pay attention to your response patterns
After answering these questions, observe whether certain patterns or certain moral principles appear. For example, maybe you admire a friend who never talks negatively about other people, and you feel great satisfaction when you manage to hold yourself back when you have the opportunity to gossip about someone. Or maybe you admire a very religious person. These things show that you attach importance to those values and this understanding will help you determine which ethical tendencies you want to adopt in your own life.
Part 2 of 2: Living with Integrity
Step 1. Decide to change
Observe the behaviors that you ideally want to adopt based on the life values you have recognized, then compare them with your current behaviors. Next, take steps to change to adapt your current behavior to be more similar to the ideal behavior that you believe has integrity.
- You can do this by actively seeking opportunities to demonstrate an attitude of integrity, as well as trying to prioritize changes towards integrity in your life and pay attention to opportunities to apply ideal behavior in all situations at hand.
- For example, you want to be a more generous person. Don't sit around waiting for an opportunity to be generous. The things you want in life may just pass you by if you don't actively seek and find them. You can start now. Look for a trusted charitable organization and offer a donation of funds or a contribution of your time. You can also go out and give a little money to the homeless to buy a decent warm meal, or pay the price of a movie ticket for the person in line behind you.
Step 2. Believe in yourself, and believe in the power of change
Tell yourself that you can decide the things you want. This may be difficult and you may fail sometimes, but you will also learn to have better control over your behavior. All of this is possible if you believe in yourself and believe that you can change and improve yourself.
- To build confidence in yourself, think back on past successes that you've had. All of this will provide tangible evidence that you are capable of successfully becoming the person you want to be, and that you have done so before.
- Also think about how you have changed for the better in various ways and use this experience of change to remind yourself that you can change in the future too.
Step 3. Develop your sense of self-worth
Integrity and self-respect are two things that always go hand in hand. Behaving contrary to the principle of self-integrity destroys your sense of self-worth, and conversely, having a healthy sense of self-worth can help you conquer challenges and live with integrity in the midst of adversity.
- There are a number of ways to develop a sense of self-worth. Start by setting realistic expectations of yourself while providing reasonable space for failure. If you set expectations that are too high for yourself, you will likely fall short of that standard and you will feel like a complete failure. In fact, the reality is that there may be very few people who can reach such an unreasonably high standard. You can also develop a sense of self-worth by being willing to change your self-image, that is, how you view yourself. Do this by readjusting your beliefs about yourself, as you change.
- For example, maybe you used to be active in sports and part of your self-worth stems from your self-image as an athlete. However, over time, life responsibilities develop and priorities shift, so you no longer have enough time to actively exercise. Think of a new definition of yourself for the current situation.
- Don't consider yourself an "out-of-date" or "outcast" athlete, but instead think with a more positive view of yourself based on what you're actively doing right now. Maybe you are a good father now, or a hard worker who excels at work. Incorporating these new things in your view of yourself will help develop a healthy sense of self-worth. As a result, living with integrity becomes easier.
Step 4. Pay close attention to the decisions you make
No matter how big or small, or how effectively the decision brings you closer to the ideal self-concept you want, pay close attention to every decision you make and all its implications.
- Part of this has to do with being aware of the consequences of decisions, both for oneself and for others. Sometimes even the smallest of decisions have implications for a person's integrity. For example, you are having dinner with friends and you want to finish the last slice of pizza. However, you can see that a friend is desperate for that last slice of pizza and that she didn't have time for lunch that day. Think of the consequences if you take that slice of pizza for yourself to enjoy.
- Your friend will probably still not be full (than if he finished that last slice of pizza). If you know that your friend needs it more but you eat that last slice of pizza anyway, this can affect how you perceive your character. This means that when you sacrifice integrity, even in small things, your own and others' perceptions of who you are will change.
Step 5. Put yourself in a supportive environment
It's easier to live a life of integrity if you stay away from an environment that can weaken you.
For example, if you have friends who use drugs and this behavior goes against your principles of integrity, consider moving away from the environment and making new friends. You will definitely find it easier to avoid drugs and at the same time be able to live in line with integrity if you are far from drug addicts
Step 6. Don't give in to social pressure
Living with integrity means implementing a personal code of ethics regardless of the opinions of others. Don't give in to the pressure of others trying to push you to do things you don't want to do.
If someone tries to force you to do something against your will, try to remind yourself that you are the one who will suffer the consequences of that behavior for the rest of your life
Step 7. Stay polite
Don't be rude in your interactions with other people. Follow common social norms such as not burping at the dinner table or playing loud music at night while other people are trying to sleep. Don't talk about other people behind your back.
Step 8. Apply empathy
Think about other people's perceptions too. This can be difficult, but it will enable you to act more "prosocially" (that is, more in line with your understanding of integrity).
- In order to empathize with another person, imagine that person's situation. Ask yourself if you've been in a similar situation. If so, imagine how you would feel in that situation. However, keep in mind the person's situation and how it differs from yours, and how these different situations cause the two of you to feel differently about each other's situations. If you've never been in a similar situation but want to empathize, imagine how you would feel if you were in that situation.
- For example, if a homeless person asks you for money to buy food, think about how you would feel if you had to endure hunger and cold without having proper shelter.
- Perhaps you will experience growth in your self-confidence and personal strength as you face and conquer challenges in order to maintain your values, whatever they may be.
- Don't think about what you can get from this world, but think about what you can give to this world.
- Study the life and works of Victor Frankl, a survivor who survived his WWII concentration camp incarceration, which can best be summed up in this quote:
- Use a diary and record your progress every day. This way, you can look back on your successes when you fail and need to put in extra effort to maintain integrity.
"Those of us who have lived in concentration camps remember very well of people walking from hut to hut to comfort the prisoners while giving them the last slice of bread they had. There were few people like this, but they were that few. is clear evidence that everything can be robbed of man except for one thing which is the last human freedom, namely the ability to choose how to behave in every situation, the ability to choose one's own path."
- Be wary of those who try to persuade you to sacrifice character or integrity. These people may try to convince you that no one is perfect or make fun of you for being too idealistic. Keep in mind that no one is perfect nomeans you have to sacrifice your belief in the truth. It's good to learn from mistakes, but we don't have to make mistakes all the time to learn. Remember that striving for perfection and insisting on perfection are two different things. The first is integrity, while the second is vanity.
- Your character is unique, so don't try to imitate someone else's character. Build your character based on your own uniqueness and strengths. Self-study, self-evaluation, and introspection will go a long way in recognizing your uniqueness.